Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

Scallions, rhubarb, two types of mizuna, mushrooms. I love this time of the year. Obviously, it’s great having local, fresh produce abundantly available. But what’s even better is how the CSA pickup or the farmer’s market trip tells me what to make for dinner.

CSA pickup, 5/5/11


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The gift that keeps on giving.

Pot o' lettuce


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Ugh! Maybe this blogging business isn’t for me. I leave things here way too unattended.
Somebody asked me on Sunday what I’ve been up to this summer. I had no idea. Luckily my camera told me otherwise.

I’ve been cooking a lot sans recipes, with whatever is in the fridge, which happens to be A LOT of produce between our CSA and our garden.
Radish and Cuke Salad

I’ve been picking lots of fruit: cherries, peaches, blueberries, more peaches, and raspberries. And more peaches.
Moods Windmill

I’ve been making pickles.
Dilly Beans

And chutney.

And jam.

I grilled octopus last weekend.

I’ve been picking lots of delicious veg out of my garden. (Oops, I meant OUR garden.)

I’ve been shooting some weddings! One by myself, and one as an assistant. And I got paid! But, shh, don’t tell Uncle Sam.
First Dance BW

I made zucchini bread that wasn’t very good.
zucchini bread

I met Jennifer Carroll! Swoon.

I took two canning classes: beets and tomatoes (and salsa).
Packing beets

I’ve also been loving on my new chest freezer. More on that later.

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We found out on Saturday that we were lucky enough to get a plot at the Liberty Lands community garden. I’ve only done a little container gardening the past few years so I’m excited to have a bigger space to grow some veg. We’ve also added a little herb garden in our new-ish backyard. To say that our yard needs some work is an understatement, so it’s really nice to be able to have some separate space to do some gardening.

Cat mint

One of the awesome activities that the garden participates in is the City Harvest program. Gardeners grow produce that’s then donated to a local feeding program. Obviously I can get on board with that. Seeds and seedlings (started by inmates of the PA prison system) are provided to gardeners who plant them in their own gardens. Liberty Lands donated over 300 pounds of produce last year. Between the earthquake in Chile and the bad weather in Florida (among other factors), food banks are going to be super lean on produce until well into the summer, making this program even more crucial this year.


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Behind figuring out how to improve access, the “how much is enough” question probably comes in second for what keeps me up at night. And the question is not only “how much?” but also “how good is the quality of the food we provide?” There’s never enough food to go around. At least that’s what it seems like when hundreds of people call our food referral line and then stand in line outside food pantries for hours on end. And as we continue to put food into the community, time and again, the “how much is enough?” question comes up. Sometimes, some communities seem like bottomless pits.

Is feeding a hungry belly processed macaroni and cheese better than not feeding it at all? More and more often, it’s not always an easy answer. Perhaps that hungry belly won’t be hungry after eating the mac and cheese…but more and more often, we’re seeing that a lifetime of processed foods has the possibility of leading to serious health problems. Shouldn’t we be aiming to not only provide enough food, but enough good food?

Enough good food. At times, aspiring to that seems insurmountable. I think that’s why I liked this interview so much with Brad and Libby Birkey who started the Same Cafe in Denver, CO. I had heard about the Same Cafe a while back but came across it again through Dafna Michaelson’s cool blog 50 in 52 Journey. The premise at the Same Cafe is that EVERYONE is welcome to come and eat a meal. You pay what you can for the meal and if you can’t pay at all, you “pay” with your time by contributing to the operations of the restaurant. The best part is that the food is GOOD, fresh, and a lot of times, locally sourced. While Brad and Libby weren’t the first ones to create this type of model, they’re doing a great job. Their interview with Dafna can be found here.

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There’s so much exciting news right now around food stamps and farmers’ markets. At two Washington, DC area markets, funding from Wholesome Wave Foundation is allowing shoppers to literally double the value of their food stamps. It’s a win win. The funding allows the shoppers to maximize their benefits to buy more fresh fruits and vegetables while the farmers’ costs are covered by the funding.

In San Diego, markets that take EBT cards are cropping up in areas with low income housing. The markets are outfitted with booths of volunteers who can answer questions about food stamps and can convert a swipe of an EBT card into tokens that customers can use at the various farmers’ booths. Even New Jersey is getting into the swing of things and announced last week that EBT cards are now welcome at markets throughout the state.

And I’m proud to say that Philly is doing its share. The Food Trust works to provide access to healthy foods to people across the area. All The Food Trust farmers’ markets take ACCESS cards, which are the PA equivalent to electronic food stamps. Farmers’ markets aren’t just for yuppies anymore.

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Food, Inc opens this weekend, go see it!

For me, it really just affirmed a lot of the ideas I had about large scale production agriculture.

Some practical things that I’m trying to do:
-Only buy meat from a purveyor that I trust. Meaning, the animals were humanely raised.
-Only buy eggs that were laid by free-roaming hens. I see a lot of egg cartons with “cage-free” labeling which is not the same. Most hen houses don’t have cages, the hens are just crammed into a windowless building where they’ve grown at a rate that their bodies can’t support.
-Not buy stuff that has GMOs in it. We don’t generally eat a lot of processed foods as it is but I try to keep my eyes on things like tofu as well as products that could be made from corn. Of course, that’s really hard, since SO many items are made with some form of corn. One thing in particular that I look for is some form of veg oil.
-Buy local produce. This one’s easy right now since it’s summertime!

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